SUENIK THE BELEAGUERED
CHAPTER 69 - AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK...
Suenik is still busy with victory celebrations, but my mind is elsewhere. Although I dismissed a couple of wars out of hand earlier in the year I still have plans for conquest. My reason for refusing to be dragged into my vassals petty squabbles was down to the fact that I wasn't prepared for those conflicts and that they didn't feed into my bigger picture.
This, however, does:
How a man who lives in northern France and has no influence in the Balkans can dare call himself King of the Croats is beyond me.
His title will be mine.
Still, before then I shall take some time to relax and recuperate. After all, continuous war can take its toll on a man my age.
Perhaps I will go and relax in my tomato garden with my grandson. Maybe chase him around and kid on that I'm a monster. Maybe...
What? What's going on?
Oh thank you God. Thank you thank you thank you!
Who the hell are you? Where the hell am I?
Not hell my son, more like limbo.
The one and the same.
Does this mean...
I'm afraid so.
But...but...I've got so much to do...
You've had your time I'm afraid.
One question then...
Only the one?
Well, actually, I've got a shed load of questions, but one I need answering now.
Very well son, but I should warn you that even the dead are no wiser where the greater questions of existence are concerned. If it's "What is God's plan?" for instance...
What? No. Nothing like that. I'm sure I'll figure that out myself. No, my question is this: who is that funny little man dancing around over there chanting "It's still intact! It's still intact!"? Is he and imp or a goblin perchance?
That, my son, is Prince Mleh I.
What? Really? Wow - I thought he'd be taller.
Oi! I heard that junior! You should pay your betters some respect! For I hold the record for longest reign of any Suenikian monarch!
Hmph. You realise you weren't even a monarch! You were just a prince, and not a very good one at that!
I still reigned for longer than you did though! How does it feel, to have missed the record by TWO MONTHS! TWO MONTHS!
How does it feel to have never experienced what it was like having the divine right to rule handed down from the Almighty Himself?
I thought as much.
Anyway, come my son - we have much to talk about.
Certainly. I am looking forw...oh no! I'm dead!
Calm my son - there will be a period of adjustment where you come to terms with shrugging off your mortal coil and...
Shush! I'm not bothered about being in dead. I'm more bothered about the fact that Krikor is now in charge!
Ia! Shub-niggurath! The time of resurrection is at hand!
Uncle Krikor? Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's not you I'm talking about. It's him. My son. Down there. Crying. Like a girl. Oh please Krikor. Don't throw away all I have accomplished!
Odd. I'm sure I said the same thing when I died.
Gee. Thanks dad.
Quit sulking. It doesn't suit a herald of the old gods.
Would you pair hush? I'm trying to see how he's doing.
This is not good.
My dad has just died.
I am completely unprepared to be Emperor.
No sooner has my coronation finished than my spymaster has come to me and informed me that pretty much everyone I rule over hates my guts.
"He's no Aboulgharib" they're all saying.
"I wonder if he'll go the way of the last Krikor we had."
I don't like this atmosphere at all, so I lock myself in my keep and consider what to do next. First things first, I send gifts of gold and jewels to all of those who hate me. Hopefully if I can't impress them with my leadership I'll be able to buy them off! I can't stand war. A war now would not be good. All I want to do is build on what dad has left me, improve the Empire and make its people happy. War doesn't feature any where in my plans.
I can't call upon my vassals to fight this for me at this stage - none of them trust me enough to let me anywhere near their forces! I guess I'm going to have to deal with this one myself!
When it becomes apparent that I'm not just going to roll over and take it (although, if I were more established I might!) the Sheik sends me tidings of peace.
I'm REALLY tempted to take this offer if it means avoiding a fight, but I can't lose face at this early stage of my rule. As a result, I lead my force into the heart of the Sheik's realm, confront his force and ask them to withdraw peacefully.
Miraculously, it works!
I thought I was going to have to draw my sword for a moment there.
The siege is over quickly and it turns out that the sheik is actually a toddler, doubtlessly manipulated into war by his cruel and evil advisors! He agrees to rejoin the Empire. He also agrees to stop claiming that Constantinople is rightfully his.
I hate the business of state. It's so dirty and corrupt. That poor child might have died in this war!
I return to the capital (there were no cheering crowds to greet me - father always got those...) and set down to the serious business of marrying off my stepmother. She's been playing the grieving widow which is frankly getting on my nerves. So, I set her up with cousin Smbat and they go off to live in the Ryn Desert.
Well done my boy! He might not be a complete lost cause after all!
I then duly hand titles out to my two sons. Ruben, the eldest and count of Philippopolis, receives the Crown Prince's title...
...while Konstandin, who is only four, is made count of Serdica - somewhere father wrested from a disloyal Sheik.
It's a long way from home but I'm sure he'll be ok. Hopefully such a posting will teach him independence!
...and to be not as much of a wet blanket as his father!
Right! To building! Where shall we look to improve first?
What? I don't even know what is going on here! Emirate of Hormuz? They're attacking my vassals? I suppose I'd better wade in. Oh I really, REALLY hate war!
ARGH! Who are these people? What do they want?
Is the King of Croatia safe? Will Krikor prove to be nothing more than an invertebrate coward? Will the Empire fracture? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Suenik - Land of the Beleaguered!